Tuesday often seems to offer the most problematic aspects of the week. Something inescapable about it, stuck after Monday with four days stretched out ahead.

When counting days off drinks in a week, it’s usually the easiest “dry” day, conversely. A clarity buzz factor brings one into Wednesday with a glow of achievement, the later-in-the-week reward just showing on the horizon.

This Tuesday had the potential to be the Tuesdayest of all Tuesdays. There’s a bustle of snap inspection stress at work, full moon looming in the last week of a seven-week term pretty much the ideal backdrop against which such a three-day event might begin.

… about as triggery a situation as it could be, in fact. A snap decision to get to bed is in the circumstances the only sensible option. Not just an avoidanc tactic, though there is a bit of that to it. Mainly, though, a recognition that tiredness and work stress have no need for further amplification or chemical interference.

Despite this level-headed rationale, there’s still a nagging feeling that the entire process would seem less problematic with a few glasses down. Well Tuesday, that.

Anniversaries are curious things. Dates on the calendar, both of which are also curious things if you start to consider them too closely.

Why we choose to honour such occasions likely speaks to some human desire or other – I’m not considering it too closely. Marking off the days for something to do, at the least.

The technical ‘date something happened in a particular year previously’ meaning of ‘anniversary’ ignores the rich world of short-term commemoration, the acknowledgment required for events that are under one year but worthy of celebrating.

Kids go from weeks to months to years seemingly in the blink of an eye, if quite a wearied blinking for some considerable time. “It’ll be over before you know it!” Wearied blinking eye rolling.

And of course there’s the fresh-hearted whimsy of school students enjoying their two week, or one month, or three month milestones with significant others.

“Three weeks – that’s Mud.” “Six weeks – er, Cola Bottles…?”

Anyway, today marks the auspicious event of seven days going by since beginning this exploration of a post-booze habit process.

Pebbles?

With some sort of family meal being a feature of Sundays, the presence of a bottle of some description to accompany the food on the table has always seemed to add a certain civilised something.

Depending on the season, or the point in the drinking calendar, it might be something as basic as a bottle of beer, or cider. Really, though, that kind of ‘sensible’ drinking does not happen.

If it’s been a “long weekend” (see Thursdays), then a couple of beers might be considered essential maintenance, coasting towards Monday off because work, but needing the smoothing off of the edges.

If an especially special occasion – this being any one of a rolling sequence of arbitrary  justifications – it’d be a couple of beers for starters, plus wine. Stopping off at the garage on the way home to get supplies, even after deciding not to. Perhaps because of that. The starters might for variety be any leftover gins, or the pre-mixed cans of G&T as mentioned in previous posts. Maybe cava if it’s someone’s birthday.

Wine: generally red, generally two bottles, because one would get opened during food prep and then finished over food. A second bottle, depending on what time this was all happening, would likely as not be supplemented later, with a wander back up to the garage for more wine. The supermarkets may close at 4pm on a Sunday, but the Tesco garage is open until midnight, and sells drink.

As I type out this Sunday litany, it’s an odd mix of feelings. I mean, I am not horrified, amused, proud, ashamed… Maybe a cocktail of all those things, but putting it down on the page, it just kind of… is.

Well, was. I sat down to write this after a busy day doing things – work, family, leisure – and it honestly hadn’t occurred to me. The urge is still in abeyance, meaning the urge to have anything at all, never mind set off determinedly, after a bottle and a half of wine and several beers, to get more.

Yet abeyance means a pause, a temporary cessation, and I am aware of this, as I enjoy a surge of energy and enthusiasm. I am aware that the same strength and determination was behind that unavoidable swerve into the garage forecourt, an impulse equally thrilling, equally compelling.

It comes and goes. It’s in there, possible.

Talking through “not not-drinking” with my best belovèd. We have a friend who has similar tussles with drinking alcohol to dependent excess. It’s something we’re discussing together, and separately, as it “should” be, and happily is among friends who have known each other for around thirty years.

Without going into granular detail on the psychological commonalities we share – not today at least – something we were discussing and finding interesting is a collective uneasiness with the idea of sweeping declarations.

Swearing off it forever, I mean.

[GRAMS: Shirley Bassey “AAAAAAND EEEVAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHH”)

… forever ever?

We want to get to the bottom of why this seems to cause as much uneasiness as the concept of moderation appears to be a laughably remote ideal.

One qualm is clearly a factor of the substance itself. Its addictive qualities. The chemical effect, its reliability, and the self-sustaining strength of the hit. The booze insinuating. So… one might dismiss that, and clamber on the wagon galloping away west, surely? Only then there’s a worry of hitching oneself to something that will become equally oppressive in time. Oh dear, hooked up with the cannibals!

There’s labelling stigma – self-applied or not. There’s a distrust of fundamentalism. The concept of saying no to anything for eternity seems so limiting. As much as saying yes to something might be, even.

As we went through all this, we realised quickly that what we were discussing was not so much the thing as the ways one might think about the thing.

So, what is worth considering further, we thought, is the urge to extremes. Why it has to be all the booze available, or no booze at all, is not really about the booze.

A frosty start brought the promise of a fresh and sunny day, a promise honoured. Other Friday factors combined to ease the process of greeting the weekend on its own terms, without triggering a trip to the victualler for a sharpener.

Casting thoughts back to this time last year and the same initial rush of clearing mind. The release in not feeling that need in the same way.

It’s a lot easier to feel like this when it’s a fresh and sunny Friday, for sure, but there it is, the promise honoured, and that’s what’s happening.

Thursday has often been used as a great excuse to crack into a bottle of something… Or, to adopt a less passive voice, I have often used Thursday as a great excuse to crack into a bottle of something.

Head out for just a few after work? Especially if there’s been a late duty on, or a pre-weekend, get-this-out-of-the-way meeting that has overrun, or if there’s a match on…

The precise terms of the rationale may vary, but most frequently there wouldn’t even need to be one. Pre-weekend lash bravado, lack of responsibility (meaning children), the joy to come of seeing out Friday with a mild thirst waiting to be slaked.

In recent years, having reached a certain demographic and level of self-awareness, the simple fact of wanting to get some booze in, being a grown adult and having worked for it, has been enough.

And the amount varies, obviously, depending on context. Exceeding rare to get more than merry on a weeknight nowadays. Teaching is next to impossible with a head on. So, a half bottle of wine would probably do.

But the other Thursdays, when it might be two or three times that, on top of starter pints, or those not-really-drink gin and tonics in cans. They’re the ones make my head hurt just thinking about them.

The weekend mood that came spring-like upon everyone today was unfuelled by any such urges, which is a feeling worth foregrounding. It’s the feeling I’m foregrounding.

Ludwig Wittgenstein is said to have once asked a friend: ‘Why do people say it is more logical to think that the sun turns around the Earth than Earth rotating around its own axis?’ They answered: ‘I think because it seems as if the sun turns around the Earth.’ ‘Good,’ he said, ‘but how would it have been if it had seemed as if the Earth rotates around its own axis then?’

– slightly reworded Thomas Metzinger borrowed from Pannatime press

One of the problems with engaging with or tracking a process of change can be the assumptions of the existing processes that are being superseded.

The aim of this process (practice and documentation) is to begin, to explore, to develop, living aside from alcohol. The initial target is to get to a year, because that’s something that hasn’t happened for (counts using fingers and squinting off into space a bit) 26 years?

Ish. There have been periods of abstention. Last year (2018) saw a memorably clear-headed February to July, which was about the most sustained effort to date. It was an effort that sustained itself quite easily after a fairly short time. The need to continue that effort seemed to go away fairly easily as well, come July, though whether that was reward circuitry shorting, the recurrence of a ‘problem’, or something else again, is something to consider further.

The language of not-boozing – on the wagon, going dry, etc – tends to have a lot of associations attached, particularly ideas of avoidance or deprivation that are not especially helpful. This time one of the main motivations is informed intent… to see what happens when a conscious effort to change perspective is made, to not “not-booze”…

Finding the right frame is clearly fraught!

Mainly, though, intending to approach such a process not from a habitual position of the Dreads, all headachy shaky and wanting out of that pit of shadiness, but (and again a cagey mainly) from a positive interest in doing something different.

“How would it be if…?”